This Geek For Hire

Think a rival's technology might put a cement overcoat on your profits? You need a digital detective--someone to search patents and pore through journals. IBM research veteran Roger Dube is one such high-tech gumshoe. "Before Roger, we did a lot of this work ourselves," says Jerry Kochanny, research director of technology transfer at Kimberly-Clark Corp.

A Dube cyber-stakeout starts with digging into a 25,000-publication database at Gate Technology, his 12-person firm in Boca Raton, Fla. "He's a geek with street smarts," says Jon Morgenstern, president of client E-Money Inc. For Kimberly-Clark, Dube sniffed out advances in diaper materials. Tambrands hired him to help them sew tampons faster.

Sam Spade might turn up his nose at Dube's work, but he was no geek, just street smart. These days it takes both.